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Learn to Stand Before You. . . Go Flying

Posted Sep 12 2008 11:27am


Unless your name is Ashrita Furman and you're trying to break another record (see pic), you might want to find more fruitful (and stable) training methods.

So, I'm training at the gym this afternoon -- doing a little trunk stability work followed by a lower body regimen of reverse lunges, split squats and deadlifts -- when a man walks into my vicinity carrying a BOSU and a mini barbell loaded to 30 lbs.

This should be interesting.

He then precariously perches himself on the unstable, blue surface and begins a set of single arm overhead presses -- a challenging movement when seated on a solid bench or standing on stable ground, let alone standing on a soft, pliable surface. He was neither stable nor graceful and I expected him to topple over, barbell flying, and take out 5 people standing around him.

What the hell is this guy thinking?


BOSUs, physioballs, wobble boards, dyna discs, foam rollers. . . these tools have taken the fitness industry by storm over the last 10 years, with more inventions coming out all the time. Gym floors are cluttered with them. Group classes base entire training sessions on their use. Trainers and clients use these implements exhaustively, playing with them because they're the next best thing to "kick your ass" or "make your training much more fun."

I used to think along those same lines during my earlier years. I remember coming back from a seminar where I'd seen many great exercises using physio and medicine balls, BOSUs, and the like. And I couldn't wait to get back to the city so I could use them on my clients.

Just wait until they try these exercises -- they'll be talking about them for days.

And then it hit me. What am I using these exercises for? And if the reason(s) for using them is good enough, are my clients ready to use them? Will they get any benefit from them, other than the thrill of trying a challenging exercise?

Go back to the basics of what exercise is all about: Stability. Mobility. Flexibility. Strength. Power. Vitality. Energy reserve. Fat loss. Performance enhancement.

Sure, we want our time in the gym to be fun -- it's one of the variables that keeps us coming back to do the hard work. But first and foremost, training is about progress. Making progress, that is. How much progress can you make when you struggle to lift more than 25% of your maximum because you're too busy pirouetting on a BOSU?

These "toys" that litter gym floors have a purpose, and most of that purpose is centered on rehabilitation, on assistance (think physioball squatting or stretching ) or, on occasion, providing a difficult stability exercise for those individuals advanced enough to handle it.

As a recent study suggests, for 99.9% of the population --including elite athletes -- "stability training" on stable ground, using standard training equipment and old school exercises, is the safest and best way to achieve tangible results and make progress toward your goals.

Stick to the basics for optimal training results. And if you're craving a bit of danger after that, grab a friend for some alternative physioball fun -- ball jousting. ( I'm KIDDING! )

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